New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout will be hindered in the coming weeks. This is mainly due to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine subcontractor Emergent BioSolutions’ manufacturing error in late March.
“Unfortunately, we will see a lower allocation of vaccine doses from the federal government, particularly because of the J&J vaccine,” Persichilli said.
Last week, the state received a total of 550,000 vaccine doses from J&J, Moderna and Pfizer. This week the state expects 466,000 doses: about 272,000 from Pfizer and 178,000 from Moderna. J&J doses dropped from 131,000 last week to 15,600 this week, Persichilli said, adding that J&J may drop to just 2,500 doses next week.
“Since J&J doses will be scarce and we want as many people as possible to be vaccinated, please take whatever vaccination is available, Persichilli said. “All three vaccines have been found to be safe and effective. They have been proven to reduce hospitalizations and death.”
Persichilli also discussed “variants of concern” in the state, including the B117 United Kingdom (UK) variant, which is the most predominant strain in New Jersey and across the US. “This strain has a 50% increased transmission [rate] and likely increased severity based on hospitalizations and case fatalities,” she said.
Right now, there are 958 reported cases of variants in the state, 936 of which are the UK variant.
Meanwhile, 5 million vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, with more than 2 million residents fully vaccinated so far.
According to Gov. Phil Murphy, the state continues to have among the nation’s best performing vaccine programs. “We are 5th in the nation in vaccine supply administered, 7th in daily doses administered (more than 105,000 a day at last count), 6th in people receiving their first dose, and 9th in people fully vaccinated,” the governor said.
“For us, the continued supply and demand imbalance has been and continues to be our single greatest challenge, but given the number of doses we have been allocated, it is much better for us to know that there are still millions of New Jerseyans eager to get vaccinated. I would much rather be where we are getting doses in arms nearly as fast as they are arriving, than have millions of doses sitting unused in freezers,” he said.
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